How to Cope with Exam Failure
The exam hall may be a distant memory as the results are posted. Your stomach churns in anticipation. Loved ones, peers and tutors join the throng.
It isn’t what you expected.
It isn’t what you hoped for.
But there are ways to cope and things you can do to ease the situation
- Don’t panic – there are many ways you can have another go. There may be re-sits or alternative exams to take. This is NOT the one and only chance and you are NOT the one and only person who did not pass.
- Don’t be dramatic – with the emotional tension around exams and expectations, there is no doubt this is a hugely emotionally charged situation. Allow yourself some emotional ‘grieving’ but don’t torture yourself. Expect to feel measures of anger, disappointment, despair or nonchalance, but move on from each stage. The time has passed-by, hindsight is great, box-up the experience and look to the future.
- Learn from it – so with that hindsight allowing you a fresher, more realistic perspective, can you see positive paths open to you? If you are struggling to see this by yourself then are there people you can get in touch with to help? Support from others is really important; seek it out.
- Try not to linger – try not to over-focus on the exam result itself. This may sound contrary, but you must have learned about a topic in some way even if the exam questions on the day didn’t go your way. You may, at the very least, know that a certain subject is NOT for you!
- Project – a nice tool to help you get out of any lingering feelings of failure is to think where you might be in 2 years time – so you didn’t pass an exam? What difference will that make to you in 2 years? It doesn’t mean that all hope is gone, or that you won’t be happy and successful in the future. It might mean you just have to adjust your ambitions for the time being. All is not lost.
- Think of inspirational others – not everyone (or anyone) get success without challenge, struggle, hardship, uncertainty. Whilst other successful people may seem as if they have not a care in the world, chances are they have had a lot of set-backs as they strive for that success. You are not unique; you are not the only person trying to learn in life. The biggest lessons are often those about you.
- Bounce back – turn all of that disappointment and angst into motivation for your future. You don’t want to feel this low again, so don’t let these feelings of despair happen again. This does not mean trying to learn a subject which is a miserable struggle and sitting exams again and again, but it does mean being creative with solutions, thinking broadly and freshly about your future. How else can I get where I want to go?
- Have a bit of fun – healthy fun at that! Do not be tempted to drown your sorrows or start in any extreme behavior or use poor coping strategies leaving you with more problems in the long run. Take a break from wallowing, thinking and planning and take comfort in being in a position to have choices and options. It could be worse……always!
- Enjoy simple pleasures – a nice way to relax and de-stress can often be indulging in simple pleasures. It’s a great way to re-set your mental freshness and realize there is a lot to appreciate in life. A simple pleasure might just be taking your dog for a walk, getting up early one morning and watching the sunrise, lying on a beach listening to the waves. Best of all, these simple pleasures are free, and all around.
- You are not a failure – remember you are not defined by an exam, or any one thing in your life. It is all too easy to consider yourself a failure based on limited evidence and possibly, pressure from others. This is nonsense, don’t fall into negative thinking. You did not pass this exam does NOT mean you are a lesser, or changed, person.
- Focus on Others – treat others, during this difficult episode, with respect and dignity and you will end up feeling more dignified and respected! Tutors should be thanked for their help. Family may be given small tokens of appreciation if they have supported you. Say a simple thank you; the result or grade does not diminish OR increase their efforts.
- Remain Ambitious – above all, don’t shy away from success in the future, don’t give up on every hope and dream, and don’t be scared of tests and exams yet to come. As time goes by, you change, life changes and whatever the future may hold, you have learned how to cope with things when they don’t go to plan. This is a success in itself. A lesson and a test which can only be learned the hard way. Have courage and take strength from you survival.
Don’t forget, famous, successful people who have not always found exams and academic life easy include movie star Harrison Ford, British Wartime Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill, classic scientist and writer Charles Darwin, and even Albert Einstein. That is not a ‘bad crowd’ to be in now, is it?
Thank you for this, I was going through a tough time and this has helpmed ease up.
Most encouraging article ! I’m going thorough tough phase in study. Hope this article will help me to improve.
Thanks Man.:* means a lot :'(
After such an inspirational article, I am ready to re-sit my law exams. Thanks for the encouragement.
Thank you so much for your tips! It really helped me to go back to my positive thinking I had before! The main thing is not to give up and follow your dream 🙂
I wish I can cope with my tough time .
I didnt pass among all attended in the class.. I feel so bad as i become littlier than anybody else. Thank you for this article i feel you are with at this time. I have to take my remediation and im trying to give the best of it thank you and more power
I am going through my first failure in my professional studies.
I’ve never failed in my life before.
I was about to do something terrible.
Though reading all this changed my mind and made me think positive.
Thank you very very very much
🙂 🙂 🙂
Reading this has made me even more determined to stop wallowing, get up and just keep going with my studies. I’ll get there eventually! Thank you.
Nice article, though I fell ill few weeks before the exams I still think I’m to be blamed, for not studying long before the exams. I’ve learnt the hard way I just hope I’ll do the right things before ma final papers.
Very inspiring read. Thanks so much.
Thank you this means a lot to me!!chzz to the advicZz great writin!!
I can’t really take anything from the focus on others part as I received no support from my family
Thank you very much. I just failed two subjects and barely passed the third on my edexcel examinations. Its my first time to fail in my whole life, It was very tough and I couldn’t believe myself when I knew my results.
I was feeling so depressed and down, this actually helped me a lot. I really thank you from the bottom of my heart 🙂
thank youu ………………
Thankzz fr the hope… Now I gained a bit confidence… Thkzz a lot..
I just found out that I failed and my parents are dissapointed with me. I have lost all my friends..plz I need mire advice
Thank you so much for your inspirational article! It helps me a lot to get through my fear of failing.
I just wish my family could stop warning me about the future when I don’t fail but keep my spirit up by encouraging me. No matter how many times I fail.
Thanks for the article. It helped a lot.
Loved the inspirational article wish my parents could see it the way u do
Thank you so so much for this. I needed it so badly. Every unit I’ve done has resulted in good marks for everything except exams, which pull me down to a fail. It’s so upsetting. But I won’t let this pull me down with it. What you’ve written in your article really helps.
I also failed a maths exam recently and it is my first time ever failing.Thanks for this article and I know that all is not lost.
Thanks man you saved my life
I love you for this
Thanku.it changed me
I felt like today was the end of my life when I read my exam result. I’ve never failed a subject in any main exams in my life and my family and realtives always expect more from me but I failed in two subjects. One being my childhood favourite sub- mathematics which I got the highest marks during high school and now I’ve got a mere 20% and other being chemistry. I don’t know how to express my feelings because I’ve not experienced anything like this before. I was afraid to show my face to the world. But really this article cheer me up. I’ll appear in the improvement exams and i’ll work hard to get higher marks. And this article made me realised that i’d an aim. And once I aimed, will always be my aim. Thanks dude for this amazing inspirational writing.
Thank you.. This article helps me..
I received my result today which was FAIL. I was so disappointed in myself because I put a lot of effort in and actually thought I passed! I am eligible for the supplement which is in only 2 weeks. Therefore thanks for the motivation to have another go and try and get the desired result!
THUNKS MY MAN> THIS BE SUPZ HELPFUL> YA KNAW
Thank u so much..after reading this article I find my way..and feeling great..actlly I got first time failure in my life.. I was so upset..but after reading this article i got that yet I didn’t loose..now also I have time..thank u
Alas I was left hopeless not because I failed but my score is lesser than what I expected…… Let my life go as u said… Enough tensions about colleges.
This helps a lot. Thanks! i have never failed in any subject before and it sure felt bad when i found out. Now, not so much.
Thank you, Cathy. And thak you all wonderful people who is going through it all as I am. We will fight again.
My exam results came out this noon and I failed. I got terribly depressed cos I’ve never failed the exam. This was my first time failing the exam and I was about to hit the roof.But I read your article and I know what to do. Everybody has second chance to try, right? Thanks for your article. It helped me a lot.
oh thats encouraging. i didnt pass my final.I felt so bad. I see those who pass so happy and those who I study with turned their back. when I read this article I felt so relieved and am ready to re-site the exams. thanks so much
Wow…im in tears. Thank you so much for this. Im studying for my teacher exams and have taken them 7 times. Im going to keep going.
I really felt the same thing. Reading this article make me feel better. Thank you
Failure is the first step of successes, I know it is depressing but just for short period try to get over and moving on , crying wouldn’t help be strong
I just failed my exam for the 2nd time..I tried to deny the fact Im not ok but after reading this I realized Im devastated.. Imovershadowed by disappointment, fear and lowliness of myself..ThNks for this. I finally admit it and one by one Im hoping to move on from this. I wont let this failure ruined evefything I dreamed of.
Thankyou very much for posting a such inspirational and heart touching essay and I am sure that it will help other people as well as it did for me and also if we are a slow learner we should never walk back from competition.
Thanx. I failed in my high school final exams and it has made me feel hopeless. But this has helped
Thank you soo much for your article at this point I almost gave up on life. I failed my P racticals in engineering but at first I was just thinking how will I face the world all my friends had pass im the only one who failed. Even though im not yet convinced atleast at this point I can control my fears an emotions.thank you once again
Thanks soo much for your article I failed my engineering P racticles but it’s really affecting me but after I had read this article I can boost up my Self esteem
Thanks for the most uplifting article, I am not used to failing exams but I just received a fail in one of my modules and I was wondering and asking myself how did I fail after studying so hard!!? But after reading this article I now know that I am not the only one and that failure is not the end of the world, it just means that I have another chance to get better results. I just hope I don’t lose my scholarship.
Thank you for this post.I just lost 2 marks in my physics exam
I have a most horrible time i know i written the exam for a good result insted i get a F…..i am really misarable right now…i don t know what to do and even i can do a 2nd try i will be late for my batch at university…what should i do?
thanks for ur inspiring words never give up
I suffer a lot to reach my university.. I studied so hard . I’m in a real shock . I can’t cope with it plz help me
thank you Cathy! i really needed a different perspective and reading this article helped as i’m still figuring myself
by the way, how wonderful to live by the sea!
again, thank you.
I recently took the board exam on my field and failed. I think this is the lowest point of my life . I feel like I am the worst failure ever. This is such a major setback in my life. Reading this article, helped me in a lil way.
Thank you i ll never give up
As a kid I failed at an bycycle license exam the whole class did. Many failed the written exam. Only me and another girl the practical exam. It was the first time I rember being sad and crying in front of other people ever. Normally I’m to shy showing emotions atleast thats what I think. That was over 22 years ago. But during the 5 years after my last relationship I never dropped a tear becazse if that althought it made me feel miserable.
Thank you for this article, its really helping me!!
Exams won’t define all my future.
My motto in life is highlighted in this article “exam failures and grades down a piece of paper don’t define your ability”. Just because you didn’t pass an exam on the day (questions couldn’t been tougher than anticipated) does not mean you cannot or would not succeed and excel in the career you have desired.